HR’s Post-pandemic Challenge: Employee Mental Health

May 28, 2021 by Verified First

HR’s Post-pandemic Challenge: Employee Mental Health

Everyone knows the mental health of employees impacts the workplace, but it’s often passed over besides an occasional “work-life balance” discussion. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for mental health services and support in the workplace has heightened as employees face new fears and stressors, making employee mental health a key component for workplaces today. As we approach a post-pandemic world, employees will expect a more mindful approach from organizations regarding their well-being, work-life balance, and overall mental health. Understanding your role in an employee’s mental well-being and how that impacts the workplace is HR’s next challenge towards finding greater organizational alignment in the post-pandemic world. 

Recognize mental health in the workplace

To no surprise, 30% of an individual’s life is spent in the workforce. Considering a large portion of someone’s life is spent at work, addressing mental health conditions in the workplace should be no question. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, roughly 51.5 million individuals suffer from mental health conditions in the United States. That is 20% of the population! Yet, 85% of American adults go undiagnosed or untreated.

In the workplace, an employee’s mental health left untreated can impact (CDC):

  • Performance
  • Productivity
  • Engagement
  • Communication
  • Physical ability

According to the CDC, ignoring or disregarding mental health conditions not only directly affects your employees negatively, but it can also impact your organization’s overall profitability and productivity. 

Not to mention, overlooking mental health concerns can also cause adults to turn towards unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance use, which can create larger areas of concern for your organization.

Proactively supporting the mental health of your employees not only supports them but also supports the future success of your organization. Implementing programs, support, and resources in the workplace improves employee retention and loyalty, leaving your company better off.

Support your employee’s mental health

As HR, your organization relies on you to look out for the well-being of your employees, including both their professional life and (to a certain degree) their personal life.

To support the well-being of your employees, consider:

  • Empathetic leadership. It’s true what they say; you never truly understand what someone else is going through. That’s why HR should lead the way for organizations to remain mindful of all employee’s mental health. 
  • Engaging employees. Connecting with employees on a personal level increases engagement with the company and organizational mission. In turn, this impacts employee happiness and mental health which can increase productivity. 
  • Building a stigma-free workplace. Oftentimes, people are afraid to come forward with mental health problems. Create an environment where open communication is encouraged. Additionally, offer educational programs, materials, and resources on ways to cope with and support those with mental health conditions. 
  • Leveraging benefits to support employees. Employee well-being can be affected by external stressors like bills, time, and relationships. Support their mental health by offering employee benefits.

Recently, Amazon has taken a stance on employee mental health by offering employees services like free counseling, 24-hour crisis support lines, and a mental health app. Larger organizations are setting the standard for a company’s role in an employee’s mental health. It’s time to get on board. 

Be mindful of your own mental health

While it’s important to have employee health in view, oftentimes, HR is so focused on everyone else that it becomes easy to forget to consider HR’s mental well-being — your mental health matters too

Who is HR’s go-to if they are the go-to? You know this: HR doesn’t always have someone looking out for their own interests. That’s why it’s so important for HR professionals, like you, to create avenues for healthy expression. Take a moment to step back and consider what outlets you have to support your own mental health. 

Here are some tips to protecting your own mental health:

  • Find your HR cohort. Connecting with like-minded communities can reduce feelings of isolation and bring about purpose in your life. Being involved with a group that has similar experiences in the workplace allows you to work through issues together.
  • Engage with employees in meaningful ways. HR can become overwhelmed with disciplinary action or risk mitigation. Take the time to engage with employees and the organization in different, light-hearted ways when possible.   
  • Get the support you need. HR is used to being everything for everybody. Find the time to speak with a friend, family member, or professional to create your own support system.
  • Reduce stress in the workplace. Identify inefficient, stressful tasks and distinguish how to reduce them. Maybe you start by automating your workflow where you can — we can help you streamline your background screening process with our one-click integration when you’re ready!

Bottom line is, to help your employees and protect their mental health, you need to help and protect yours too!

Conclusion

Supporting employee mental health in the workplace comes with benefits like (1) a strong company culture, (2) improved retention, (3) increased productivity, and (4) a stronger talent pipeline. In the post-pandemic world, we will see more organizations implementing mental health support programs.

To start protecting the mental health of your employees, remember to:

  1. Recognize mental health in the workplace.
  2. Support your employee’s mental health.
  3. Be mindful of your own mental health.

Implementing mental health programs in the workplace is a large part of HR reinvention. To hear more about the dynamic and ever-evolving reinvention of HR, check out an interview we did with IBM’s Global Leader of Talent & HR Reinvention Strategy, Elizebeth Varghese. While you’re at it, earn 1 SHRM professional development credit!

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About Verified First
Verified First is known for delivering streamlined background screening backed by the best client support, and for developing the easiest, fastest HR system integrations, for free. Our client support team is U.S.-based, answers calls in seconds, resulting in hundreds of positive testimonials and a 96% customer satisfaction. Verified First's patent-pending, award-winning integrations include over 100 applicant tracking systems, and provide clients a turn-key experience.

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